the stalled van


free-write about sex, PTSD, relationships.

this morning i watched a minivan stall in the middle of a busy arterial at rush hour after stopping abruptly to avoid a cyclist riding thru a crosswalk. i feel like this a lot lately, the stalled van in rush hour traffic.

P. is hard to bring into front and center focus sometimes, instead he installs himself at the sides of rooms, a tall, quite presence, warm and now almost-familiar shape. i am not so good at being present in those rooms. i find myself made nervous by his calm quietude, like i should be doing something every minute we spend together to appease him, or else i will be a disappointment to the date we have been looking forwards to for a week or few. my anxiety feels misplaced most of the time. if i slow down to look at him he nearly always looks pleased simply to be sharing my company. he is a person of few words, but physically fairly expressive, particularly of pleasure.

on our most recent date we met in the late afternoon. ordinarily i attempt not to stack dates on top of one another, but sometimes schedules collude against this guideline (i frequently don’t see either of my steadies for a couple of weeks) and so i had a date with J. the night before. when i fail to stagger my dates i have to make at least a few hours somewhere to decompress, balance NRE (New Relationship Energy for you more monogamish folks) and my own needs (cooking, cleaning, practicing, writing, etc) against the staidness of P and i’s longer term sexual friendship. we are lovers but not partners. he is married to his partner of around a decade, and sometimes we double date with her and her other lover(s). our dalliances often involve bikes, the passion we most have in common (tho nearby are combining these exploits with good food and beer), although when my inflammation stuff precludes cycling we fall back on quiet working-on-stuff/reading time. i hate thinking of how many dates i’ve had to cancel or plans altered to accommodate my sick body and overwrought brain: stress-cold after stress-cold, bouts of inflammation brought on by continual overextension and anxiety, trips i have missed to cope with self-blame and grief. often now, i stutter and stop at any kind of sexual encounter, even kissing, especially when i can feel his eagerness immediately–suddenly i will realize i can’t feel anything below my waist, or uncertain of whether i will be able to have sex ‘to completion’ this time (what does that even mean?!), or my body hurts too much to be in it but i get so embarrassed of having to say that aloud–especially after i’ve had to reschedule and re-plan dates for weeks to even make it in the same room as him physically. my desire is doused by my inability to exist in the same room as P., faithful and kind creature who seems to only want the best for all parties, swallows his disappointment over and over again, even when i imagine it must vex his patience.

i am a van stuck in the middle of an intersection, stalled just before slamming into a cyclist. the cyclist waves me on but my hands are shaking too much to turn the key in the ignition properly, the engine sputters and sputters before finally spluttering to life. i roll on, disappointed at being given so much that i can not take. it’s like being starving at a banquet but with one’s jaw wired shut. i know he’d touch me, if i could tell him how. has. he has. will again? that’s the question, always, not just with him but anyone i date.

okay, but. so i have this plan: the next time the van stalls in the middle of the intersection, i’m gonna get out of the van and take a walk around the block. i don’t need to get thru that intersection until i’m ready, and it’s okay to take another route entirely. my sexuality is not really beholden to anyone, no matter how fucking tolerant they have been of my trauma shit and other quirks. my gender socialization is such that i am like the fight-or-flight hostess, constantly hustling to immediately alleviate conflicts where other peoples’ needs aren’t being met. but i lose track of my own.

what do i want? what do i need? simple questions, but i don’t trust anyone anymore, don’t trust myself. will i ever stop chastising myself for the way things ended with A.? will i ever stop being angry? not at her–just at what happened, how. shit with the manarchist, leaving ~e (goddammit, that was two fucking years ago!), so on. it’s like there’s a backlog of processing, and now all these new things are happening. and i’m tired of being strung out on processing relationships–i want to do the work of my life, writing, playing music, go back to school without getting distracted by emotional turbulence. i keep thinking that maybe polyamory is too much for me, especially the way i’ve done it in the past. no new dates policy is painful at times, but it also feels so fucking wise. i like the way that the relationships i’m in right now are taking shape. furthermore, i like the way that my friendships are deepening, as well.

i guess i need to take more walks, to start with. HORFFF.


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